For the past 12 months, and despite the pandemic, we have been able to demonstrate the delivery of excellent cultural experiences on a local and national level. Working with people from local and migrant and refugee communities, we have supported work in cold spot communities where people are not currently engaging in cultural activities. This demonstrates our resilience as a new grassroots organisation.
With the lockdown restrictions continuing to put pressure on our communities, we have changed the way we work and we are adapting new strategies that make us more resilient and enable us to respond to new and future challenges: by moving online and by supporting smaller groups and individual artists by helping them design and deliver their projects. Through our mentoring support, our associate groups have received grants to deliver their projects. We consider this an outstanding achievement for the entire team. However, like many other organisations, we are limited in the number of future projects we are able to deliver due to the pandemic. Over the coming months, we will be providing support in kind for individual artists and organisations as we promised to deliver their projects. We will also develop a range of new projects and activity programmes that will help us to develop our practice and enable Sheba Arts to bring more opportunities to our communities. We are currently exploring ways to create our new Youth Digital Programme, designed to provide innovative practices in delivering digital art and up-skilling young people’s digital competencies. Our aim is to provide creative training to young people to develop sustainable digital knowledge with the hope of both inspiring and equipping participants with a broad range of digital skills such as film, media, computing and artistic performance.
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By Maddie Wakeling
For the past three months here at Sheba Arts we have run weekly workshops - some for the public and some just internally. All of which have been attended by a core training team. The workshops have covered a real range of skills, from working with communities to digital marketing, live streaming your show to building your first website, it's been a real journey of learning.
Our core training team are an incredible group from diverse backgrounds and practices - they are artists, entrepreneurs, community workers and advocates. Together we have learnt, discussed and shared skills and experience. It's been a pleasure to be a part of a process of learning which has been so sustained. Often as freelancers we go to online workshops where we are an anonymous face on a screen, we don't have the chance or don't feel comfortable to share or enter discussions and when it's over we never hear from anyone again. I find these can be challenging spaces to learn in and intimidating places to ask questions.
The Sheba Arts training gave us an opportunity to learn in a way which was far more discursive, the workshops were inclusive and welcoming. We also held regular meetings to reflect on what we’d learnt and what we’d found challenging. All the workshops also gave time to share, as our core training team have a wealth of experience and we learnt alot from listening to each other.
I'm really excited to see the work that our core training team will continue to do, as artists and community workers in their own right and hopefully in future collaborations with Sheba Arts. We have created a real sense of community as a group, supporting and celebrating each other. Too often arts spaces become competitive and exclusive. It is easy to get caught up in that, to constantly compare yourself to other artists, companies or organisations. Art is not a competitive sport. And the community around the arts should not be making a wall around spaces and resources but should instead be welcoming people in. We need the arts to become a prefiguration of the world we want and need - a world of mutual support and radical inclusivity. We want to be inspired by others, not fired into competition. We want to work with, collaborate and co-create.